Mother of U.S. Ebola patient: 'Everyone loves him'

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Story highlights

  • DA's office looking into whether Duncan "intentionally exposed" public to Ebola
  • Daughter of Duncan's partner: Health officials told her not to leave, but said little else
  • Thomas Eric Duncan came from Liberia, became first in U.S. to be diagnosed with Ebola
  • His nephew rejects allegations Duncan cared for someone with Ebola, then lied about it
As fellow family members challenge claims that the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States lied about his exposure to the virus, the man's mother rallied around him Friday in describing him as a good person who she just wants to hug again.
"Everyone (in the family) loves him because (if) anything happens to us, he's always there for us," Nowah Gartay, Thomas Eric Duncan's mother, told CNN.
Duncan arrived in Texas from Liberia on Saturday, September 20. He started feeling sick a few days later, before being admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital -- where he'd gone and been sent home previously -- on Sunday, September 28.
Two days later, a blood test confirmed he had Ebola. Duncan is currently in isolation in serious condition at the same Dallas hospital.
How the Liberian national left Africa, and whether he should have been allowed to, has become a hot topic in recent days.
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Before flying out, Duncan allegedly answered "no" to questions on a health screening questionnaire about whether he'd cared for anyone with Ebola, touched the body of someone who died in an area affected by the disease.
But Tugbeh Chief Tugbeh, a community leader in Liberia, has said that Duncan was "a caretaker" for a woman who died from Ebola at a residence outside the capital of Monrovia. Because of these and other claims, Liberia Airport Authority officials say they may prosecute Duncan if he lied before leaving that West African nation.
The Dallas County District Attorney's office said Friday that it is "looking into whether or not Thomas Eric Duncan knowingly and intentionally exposed the public to a deadly virus -- making this a criminal matter."
Discussing this case, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told Canadian public broadcaster CBC, "The fact that he knew (he was exposed to the virus) and he left the country is unpardonable, quite frankly."
"With the U.S. doing so much to help us fight Ebola, and again one of our compatriots didn't take due care, and so, he's gone there and ... put some Americans in a state of fear, and put them at some risk, and so I feel very saddened by that and very angry with him, to tell you the truth."
Duncan's nephew on Friday strongly rejected such allegations, much like other relatives have in recent days.
Sitting alongside Gartay in Charlotte, North Carolina, Josephus Weeks told CNN's Jim Sciutto that Duncan told him "he had moved a long time ago" from an area hit hard by Ebola.
"He said, 'Well, I wasn't even in that area,'" said Weeks in direct response to Tugbeh's claim. "... He wasn't a part of that whole scenario that has been populating the news all these many days. So that's inaccurate."
Weeks proceeded to take a shot at some Liberian citizens and "so many ignorant government officials," saying it's not fair that such claims can be made public without being vetted first.
"Any time they see a camera, they just jump right in front of it and make a statement," Weeks said. "Unfortunately, most of them are ignorant, and they are all lies."
As to what's happened in the United States, Weeks criticized Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital for not connecting the dots and passing on relevant information that Duncan had come from Liberia.
This should have tipped off the possibility he had Ebola, given his symptoms; instead he was let go from the hospital after about four hours, according to his partner, who identified herself to CNN only as Louise. U.S. health officials have said that the failure to pass on this information was a mistake.
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"It was upsetting to find that he was possibly infected with that deadly disease, and the hospital was not showing me any signs that they were equipped to handle that particular situation," said Weeks, who added that he called the U.S. Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention but did not specify when.
Youngor Jallah -- Louise's daughter who called Duncan her "stepdaddy," though her mother and he aren't believed to be legally married -- was the one who called Sunday for the ambulance for Duncan while visiting the apartment where he was staying.
But she told CNN on Friday night that she learned that Duncan had Ebola "on the news."
Jallah said she's especially frustrated that, while she may not be technically quarantined, health officials told her Tuesday, "we can't go outside, we can't do nothing."
"We asked them, 'Can we go outside to get our babies' diapers'?" she said. "They told us, 'No. You guys should stay in here until we can ask our boss if you guys can go out."
Three days later, Jallah -- who claims Duncan never threw up or even went to the bathroom when she saw him -- hasn't heard back.
"No one gave me any direction," she said. "... I'm scared."
All these frustrations notwithstanding, Duncan's mother also made a point Friday to emphatically thank the doctors, nurses and attendants now caring for her son. While some might have made mistakes, others are working hard to try to get him better.
"I thank every one of you, (I) thank you for my son," she said. "I love him. All (his) family members love him."